Izard municipal judge charged in theft drugs from workplace

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Over 24,000 pills are missing and Izard County District Municipal Judge Steven Dwayne Lawrence, 41, of Melbourne has been charged with felony fraud-drug paraphernalia. Lawrence, who was also a pharmacist at Wal-Mart in Mountain View, admitted to an employee at Wal-Mart that he has an addiction to prescription drugs, according to an affidavit filed in Stone County.

The affidavit stated that on Nov. 20 the Stone County Sheriff's Office was contacted by Mary Marden, a loss prevention manager for Wal-Mart. Marden said she was doing an in-store investigation regarding a large amount of prescription pills that were missing from the Wal-Mart store in Mountain View.

David Burnett, the investigating officer from the Stone County Sheriff's Office, met with Marden on Nov. 21. Marden advised Burnett that a large quantity of schedule III prescription pills were missing from the pharmacy at Wal-Mart.

Included in the missing pills were Hy-drocodone, Lortab, Vico-profen, Vicodin and Lorcet. According to the warrant, Wal-Mart noticed that the audits of prescription pills were not matching what should have been at the pharmacy.

Cameras had been placed in the pharmacy to discover the cause of the missing pills.According to Marden, the pharmacist, Lawrence, was observed by the cameras taking large quantities of pills from the pharmacy.

In written statements taken by Marden from seven of the pharmacy workers, they described Lawrence's behavior as strange. They described his behavior as pre-occupied and lethargic, as if he were heavily medicated.

Several of his co-workers noted they had observed Lawrence going to the pharmacy area where the pills are usually kept. They observed what appeared to be Lawrence opening some of the containers, taking the pills and going to the water fountain to swallow them.

The audit revealed that 24,791 pills were missing, valued at $7,510.46.

Marden interviewed Lawrence on Nov. 17 at Wal-Mart in Mountain View. During the interview Lawrence admitted that he had an addiction to prescription drugs, according to the report. Lawrence stated that he had been taking drugs from the pharmacy and was willing to work with Wal-Mart to determine the amount of pills he had taken and make restitution for them. Lawrence was terminated as an employee of Wal-Mart.

A bench warrant was issued on Dec. 11 and Lawrence was released on his own recognizance.Attorney David Miller filled in as judge for court on Dec. 14.

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